About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Â Â Â Acts 16:25 (HCSB)
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. Â Â Â 1 Corinthians 1:18 (HCSB)
There are so many examples in the Bible of people going through really rough times and yet they are able to move on, and move with joy. For me, joy is happiness that has nothing to do with circumstances. It comes from the LORD.
Paul and Silas are in a Roman prison. They have been stripped and beaten. They are thrown into a cell, their feet in stocks (Google that for a picture!), in the darkest, wettest part of the jail. And yet we are told that they pray and sing praises to God. No wonder that the other inhabitants of the slime pit are listening! At first I might listen in shock that such praises are happening in this location! But then it may seem that there is a lightness in such darkness. I listen with hunger.
I have often heard that a life of faith is a life of delusion. I would argue that point. I am quite aware of the circumstances in my life. I know about death. I know about mortal blows to my heart. Focusing on the pain or focusing on God and His promises is a choice. I usually can place a choice in each hand and weigh them out and make a choice. This choice defies all logic. In the middle of horrendous, even horrific, events â€“ I choose to look at Jesus and lift my hands in praise. I may begin my singing and praying with tears and a heavy heart but I can promise you that before I finish one song my heart will have been lifted by the very power of God.
I know that this power of praise continued throughout Paul’s new life with Jesus because when he came near the end of his life he spoke of faithfully running a race (2 Timothy 4:7). In the time of the end of my life, spending it in a prison, chained to my jailor, is not in my hopes and dreams. Paul was still praising God.
If you are having a hard day or week or month or year or life, give this a try. Write down what you are thinking and feeling. A 3-4 sentence paragraph could be enough. Keep praise and worship music (hymns) going as you work, drive, or have dinner. Whatever style speaks to you â€“ God doesn’t care as long as it’s about praising and worshiping Him. Keep that for three days. Then pull out your paragraph and write down another paragraph about what you are thinking and feeling. I pray that you will find some of your problems resolved. But I believe you will find your perspective has changed. You may find that you are no longer looking through just your own eyes but that you are, in fact, looking through Holy Spirit glasses. You might be struck down but not destroyed. You are now living in God’s joy which is the power of the Most High God.